Illini Travel to No. 18 Purdue This Weekend

Thomas Lindauer is hitting .471 over the last four games and is reaching base 48 percent of the time when starting an inning.
Thomas Lindauer is hitting .471 over the last four games and is reaching base 48 percent of the time when starting an inning.

April 12, 2012

 Illinois (18-13, 3-3) at #18 Purdue (25-5, 7-2)
 Game 1 Friday, April 13, 2012 | 3 p.m.
 Game 2 Sunday, April 15, 2012 | 11 a.m.
 Game 3 Sunday, April 15, 2012 | 2 p.m.
 Location Lambert Field (1,100) | West Lafayette, Ind.
 Radio WDWS AM-1400 (PBP: Dave Loane; Analyst: Ben Taylor)
 Live Audio Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Game Notes Illinois
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Johnson (RHP, Jr., 5-2, 4.05 ERA)
PUR: Joe Haase (RHP, Sr., 5-0, 3.59 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, Fr., 5-2, 4.62 ERA)
PUR: Lance Breedlove (RHP, Sr., 5-2, 2.55 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: TBA
PUR: Connor Podkul (RHP, Fr., 1-0, 2.57 ERA
 Series History Illinois leads 154-76-1
 Last Season Illinois won series 2-1
 Streak Won 2
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | Kevin Johnson | Brandon Hohl

Illinois Is...
...3-1 in its last 4 games
...7-3 in its last 10 games
...averaging 6.8 runs per game
...averaging 10.5 hits per game
...2nd in the nation in double plays turned per game (1.28) (through 4/8)
...9th in the nation in triples per game (0.52)
...28th in the nation in batting average (.306)
...31st in the nation in stolen bases per game (1.66)
...38th in the nation in runs per game (6.8)
...16-3 when scoring 5 or more runs
...14-2 when allowing 4 or fewer runs
...11-3 when scoring first
...11-5 when scoring in the 1st inning
...17-0 when leading after the 4th inning
...16-2 when out-hitting its opponent

Illini Line Drives
• Milroy, Roper Earn Big Ten Honors:
Illinois' Matt Milroy was named Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week and Reid Roper was named Co-Freshman of the Week on April 9 for their performances over the Illini's previous four games. Milroy struck out a career-high 10 Hoosiers over five innings of scoreless relief to lift Illinois to an 11-6 win on April 8 and a series victory, while Roper hit .455 during the Indiana series and added a 2-for-4 effort against Bradley on April 3. It was the first career weekly honor for each player and gives Illinois five laurels this year.

• Hartleb Zeroes in on 200th Win: Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb heads into the Purdue series with 199 career wins as the leader of the Illini, as he has averaged just over 30 wins per year. He recorded his 100th win against Akron on March 14, 2009.

• Johnson Silences Opposing Bats: Illinois' No. 1 starter, Kevin Johnson, has been very effective in 2012, matching his highest win total for a season already with a 5-2 mark and ranking 36th in the country in wins. Johnson has won five of his last six starts.

• Argo Attacks Record Book: Center fielder Willie Argo will leave Illinois with his named splashed across the record book. His most recent target was the career stolen bases record, which he broke at Illinois State on March 27 with his 84th career steal. That passed Todd Schmitke's previous record of 83, which had stood since 1982, a span of 30 years. He currently has 90 career steals, which is tied for seventh in Big Ten history with three other players. The Davenport, Iowa, native also holds Illinois' single-season steals record with 41 in 2010 and hit the second-most home runs by a freshman with 12 in 2009. See page five for a list of records to watch.

• Illini Offense Starts Hot: Despite losing nearly 60 percent of its runs scored from 2011, the Illinois offense has been solid in 2012, averaging 6.8 runs and 10.5 hits per game. The team ranks 28th nationally in batting average (.306) and 38th in scoring as of April 9. It has been a balanced attack, as seven regular starters have 32 or more hits and 20 or more runs.

• Young Arms Show Promise: The Illini have been bolstered by a crew of young pitchers in 2012, as true-freshmen John Kravetz and Josh Ferry made up two-thirds of Illinois' starting rotation the past three weekends. In addition, two sophomores and one redshirt-freshman have been solid in relief with Luke Joyce (4.05 ERA, 20.0 IP), Ronnie Muck (4.15 ERA, 17.1 IP), and Reid Roper (1.17 ERA, 7.2 IP) providing solid bullpen work.

• Leaving 'em Stranded: Three Illini relievers have shown an exceptional ability to strand inherited runners in 2012, with Drasen Johnson, Luke Joyce and Ronnie Muck taking over on the mound with 37 runners on base and allowing only eight to score (.216). Johnson has stranded 12-of-14 inherited runners, while Joyce is 7-for-12 and Muck is 10-for-11. As a team, Illinois has stranded 67.7 percent of inherited runners (42-of-62).

• Offense is Solid...Once It Gets Going: The Illini are scoring an impressive 6.8 runs per game through 31 games, largely thanks to the fact that Illinois hitters have advanced runners at a .540 rate and are hitting .355 with runners in scoring position. But the Orange and Blue have run into some trouble getting innings started as they're hitting only .260 with the bases empty and reaching base when leading off an inning 33.5 percent of the time, compared to a .349 average with runners on base.

• Two Down, None to Go: Illini pitchers have been highly successful with two outs in an inning, holding opponents to a .224 average in the situation. Illinois' bullpen has been even better, allowing only 24 hits in 134 at bats (.174 average) with two outs in an inning. Drasen Johnson has forced opponents into 2-for-14 (.143) hitting with two outs, Matt Milroy is 2-for-18 (.111) as a reliever, Ronnie Muck is 3-for-22 (.136), Anthony Milazzo is 2-for-11 (.182) and Reid Roper is 0-for-6 to lead the relievers. Conversely, the Illini are hitting .301 with two outs and have 74 two-out RBIs, 40 percent of their total RBIs.

• Rally on Two: Illinois' two-out hitting has been such a key that it could be seen as a predictor of success. In the Illini's 18 wins, they are hitting .356 with two outs and 63 two-out RBIs. In their 13 losses, the Orange and Blue are hitting only .208 with 11 two-out RBIs.

• Take 2, They're Small: Despite having a pair of new starters up the middle in shortstop Thomas Lindauer and second baseman Reid Roper, Illinois ranks second in the nation in double plays per game with 1.29 (through Wednesday's games) behind Washington State (1.31, 38 DP, 29 G). An interesting twist on the Lindauer/Roper combination is that they both are taking courses in American Sign Language and occasionally use it to communicate on the field. First baseman Jordan Parr has finished all but five of the Illini's twin killings and leads the Big Ten with 35 double plays.

Illini Visit League-Leading Purdue
After splitting a pair of mid-week games against Eastern Illinois and Missouri, the Fighting Illini travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to face Big Ten-leading and No. 18 (NCBWA) Purdue in a three-game series. Illinois has won seven of its last 10 games, but the Boilers are one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won nine of their last 10 contests and 21 of their last 25.

Purdue has achieved its success despite playing 25 of its first 30 games on the road, with a five-game home stand from March 27-April 1 the only games the Boilers have played at home. The Old Gold and Black was scheduled to open Alexander Field this season, but construction delays have forced Purdue to continue playing its home games at Lambert Field to this point.

The Boilers are one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation, ranking fifth in batting average (.325) through last weekend's games and 15th in scoring (7.3 runs per game). Purdue also ranks 18th in hits, 21st in triples and 26th in slugging percentage. Not to be outdone, its pitchers rank No. 45 in ERA (3.25), 11th in walks allowed (2.41 per nine innings) and 18th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.88). Purdue also is 10th nationally in double plays per game (1.14). The Boilers are a veteran squad, boasting 14 seniors and a very talented group of 12 juniors on their 35-man roster.

Series History Against Purdue
Illinois has dominated the all-time series against Purdue, holding a 154-76-1 advantage that dates back to 1893. The Illini are 68-38-1 in games played in West Lafayette after taking the final two games of last year's series at Lambert Field. That marked Illinois' first series win over Purdue since 1999 and first in West Lafayette since 1998. The Boilers hold a 6-1-3 series record and a 26-15 overall record against the Illini since 2000, and Illinois is 6-12 in West Lafayette during that time frame. Below is Illinois' record against Purdue in each season since 1995:

 Series History against Purdue since 1995
 Year RecordSite
 2011 2-1West Lafayette
 2010 1-2Champaign
 2009 1-2West Lafayette
 2008 1-3Champaign
 2007 2-2West Lafayette
 2006 2-2Champaign
 2006 0-1Ann Arbor (Big Ten Tournament)
 2005 0-1Champaign (Big Ten Tournament)
 2003 1-3West Lafayette
 2002 2-2Champaign
 2001 1-3Champaign
 2001 1-0Columbus (Big Ten Tournament)
 2000 0-4West Lafayette
 2000 1-0Minneapolis (Big Ten Tournament)
 1999 3-0Champaign
 1998 4-0West Lafayette
 1997 1-3Champaign
 1997 1-0Ann Arbor (Big Ten Tournament)
 1996 3-1West Lafayette
 1995 1-3Champaign

Illini Against Ranked Opponents
The Orange and Blue will face their fifth ranked opponent of the season this weekend in No. 18 Purdue, and Illinois is 2-2 against ranked opponents so far this year. The Illini beat No. 27 St. John's 9-4 at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge and took down No. 18 Oregon 2-1 at the Ducks' home park in the Nike College Showcase. Illinois dropped a 4-3 affair to No. 25 Louisville, which is ranked No. 19 in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. The Illini also fell to No. 22 Oregon State, 8-2, at the Nike College Showcase.